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Plea In SC To Fill Vacancies In Headless Central Information Commission

The Central Information Commission (CIC) is not only working at half its strength of 12 posts including the office of chief information commissioner and 11 for information commissioners but has also been headless for the past two months with pendency of appeals/complaints crossing 36,500 cases despite a Supreme Court order of December 2019 fixing a three-month deadline for the Centre to fill all vacancies at CIC. Pointing to this state of affairs prevailing at the apex body meant to dispense the prized right to information (RTI) of citizens, an application has been moved by three public-spirited persons – Anjali Bhardwaj, Lokesh K Batra and Amrita Johri– before the Supreme Court in a pending public interest litigation (PIL) filed by them. The application has demanded an urgent hearing on the matter since the posts of five information commissioners (ICs) and the chief IC at the constitutional body are lying vacant. Almost 10 months have gone by since the department of personnel and training (DoPT) on December 12, 2019 issued an advertisement calling applications for posts of four ICs. Four days later, the Supreme Court took up the pending PIL filed by the three social activists and ordered that all vacancies should be filled up in three months. The matter was to come up on March 25, 2020 but due to the Covid-19 situation, the matter has not got a subsequent hearing. The application pointed out that the vacancy has remained constant at four since November last. As regards the post of Chief IC remaining headless, it was submitted that with the retirement of Bimal Julka, this post is lying vacant since August 27, 2020. This is the fifth time that the CIC is functioning without a chief in the past six years.

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